Modern Management: Adapt How You Lead for Agile Success

Modern Management: Adapt How You Lead for Agile Success

Agile approaches have downplayed the role of management. Too many people say, “We don’t need no stinkin’ managers.” On the contrary. We need managers to create and refine the agile culture and create leadership capability across the organization. Without modern management, any agile transformation dies a quick and ugly death. Instead, it’s time to invite managers to change their behaviors to transform to an agile culture. Learn to see and create management excellence for your agile culture.

(This is an early version of the talk.)


Johanna Rothman

June 25, 2020


  1. Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Modern Management: Adapt How You Lead

    for Agile Success
  2. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Why do people think we

    don’t need managers in agile approaches? 2
  3. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Too much of what passes

    for “management” has little to do with leadership and everything to do with control. 3
  4. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Why Management Exists • Manage

    themselves before they manage anyone else • Create a harmonic whole • Every organization exists for one reason: Innovation 4
  5. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Our Agenda • Great managers

    manage themselves first (Think) • Great managers serve and lead others (Feel) • Great managers create an environment of innovation (Act) 5
  6. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 1. Great Managers Manage Themselves

    6 Satir Congruence Model
  7. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Brief Explanation of Congruence •

    Blaming: Disregard Other • Placating: Disregard Self • Super-Reasonable: Consider Only Context • Irrelevant: Consider Neither Self, Other, or Context • Congruent: Balance Self, Other and Context 7 Satir Congruence Model
  8. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Manage Yourself Myths • Managers

    are more valuable than other people. • Managers must solve the team’s problem for them. • Managers are too valuable to take a vacation. • Managers can still do significant technical work. (Or, player-coach works.) • Managers can estimate for the team. • Managers micromanage to see state. • Managers think the team needs a cheerleader. • Managers don’t admit mistakes. • Managers can concentrate on the run. • Managers expect people to bring solutions to problems. • Managers believe in indispensable employees. (Or “10X”) 8
  9. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Myths Violate Value-Based Integrity •

    Honesty • Fair • Consistent • Take responsibility • Treat people with respect 9
  10. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Value-Based Integrity Creates Safety •

    The more you act with integrity, the more respect you retain. • The safer you feel • The more you can increase safety at work 10
  11. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Principles for Managing Yourself •

    Build empathy with the people doing the work. • Extend trust. • Delegate problems and outcomes. • Coach others so they can solve problems they encounter—even if you can do the work faster. • Admit mistakes or when you don’t know. • Exercise your value-based integrity as a model for the people you lead and serve. 11
  12. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 2. Great Managers Lead and

    Serve Others • “Managing” others is about leading and serving. • Leading and serving != directing and controlling 12
  13. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman People Remember How They Felt

    • Think back to the best manager you had. How did you feel when you worked there? • Do you remember the work or the teams? • Take just one of your terrible managers. How did you feel when you worked there? • Do you remember any of the work, except to remember how you felt about it? 13
  14. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Resource Efficiency vs Flow Efficiency

  15. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Outdated Management Assumptions Color Management

    Actions • People can do the job • People can master the challenges • People can take responsibility for the work and the relationships • … and more • People might need support or training, but they can. 15
  16. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Theory Y Thinking Enables Management

    Integrity • Honesty • Fair • Consistent • Take responsibility • Treat people with respect 16
  17. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Lead & Serve Others Myths

    • No limit to the number of people you can manage. • People don’t need feedback. • Measure busy-ness, not outcomes. • Managers want to know the people are engaged. • Thinking isn't work. • Performance reviews or other evaluations are useful. (They are not. They damage relationships and performance.) • People don’t need credit for their work. • Hiring shortcuts are fine. • People are resources. (No, they are not.) • We need experts for this work. • Promote the best technical person to be a manager • You can keep even marginally-useful people on a team. 17
  18. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman When Managers Don’t Lead &

    Serve… • Incongruent • Lack of respect • Insufficient empathy • Work feels like drudgery 18
  19. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Principles for Leading and Serving

    Others • Encourage flow efficiency. • Create a physically and psychologically safe environment. • Extend trust. • Offer reinforcing feedback, to catch people doing things right. • Use experiments to practice small changes. • Look for outcomes, not outputs. • Provide training so people can continue to learn. • Clarify the necessary interpersonal skills for all roles. 19
  20. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman 3. Great Managers Lead for

    Innovation 20 “...every organization---not just businesses--- needs one core competence: innovation.” — Peter Drucker
  21. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Where Do Managers Spend Time?

  22. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Organizational Leadership Myths • Great

    management looks easy so it is easy • Treat everyone the same way • Performance management creates employee engagement (It does not!) • Comparing teams is useful • “Friendly” competition is constructive • 100% utilization works • No time for training • It’s okay to move people wherever they need to go, whenever the manager wants. • Lower salaries means lower project cost • Manage by spreadsheet • It’s a great idea to standardize on how people work (especially their agile approach.) 22
  23. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Embrace the Organization’s “Messiness” •

    Define the organization’s “Why” • Iterate on the strategy • Plan for change 23
  24. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Innovation Principles • Clarify the

    organization's purpose. • Manage for effectiveness. • Seek outcomes, not outputs. • Flow efficiency at all levels. • Encourage small-world networks of relationships. • Organizational integrity. • Encourage change and experiments. • Create transparency around decisions. 24
  25. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Origin of Many of the

    Myths • “Common” management thinking is that: • Knowledge work == factory work == slavery • That leads to problems in management thinking: • Divide-and-conquer works • Inventory is good • Cost accounting works for software • All of these are antithetical to agile approaches 25
  26. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Managers Create & Refine the

    Culture • For everyone as individuals, in teams, and in groups • (Schein discusses artifacts, values, and assumptions) • How people treat each other • What people can discuss • How the manager and organization rewards people 26
  27. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman “The Culture of any organization

    is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate.” — Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker, School Culture Rewired, ch.3 (2015) 27
  28. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Build Your Agile Management Habits

    • Progress, not perfection!! • Start with yourself • Remember that people remember how you make them feel • If you don’t know the “why” nothing else matters. • Create a workplace based on dignity and respect 28
  29. © 2020 Johanna Rothman @johannarothman Let’s Stay in Touch •

    Pragmatic Manager: • pragmaticmanager • Please link with me on LinkedIn • Modern Management Made Easy (in- progress): • modernmanagementmadeeasy 29